Online Bachelor's Degree in Library Science

Completing a library science degree online at the bachelor's level puts graduates on a journey toward becoming full-fledged librarians. Library science offers an exciting path that sits at the intersection of information technology, education, preservation, and records management. Students learn how to properly collect, preserve, catalog, and make available to patrons a large collection of books, documents, archives, and other printed and digital materials.

According to projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), roles for librarians may grow by 9% between 2016 and 2026, with an additional 12,400 new positions during this time. Some graduates who earn a library science bachelor's degree online elect to work in a traditional library setting, while some pursue jobs in historic archives, school libraries, medical libraries, or other professional settings.

Roles for librarians may grow by 9% between 2016 and 2026.

While an online bachelor's degree in library and information science can help you find entry-level and support roles, individuals who want to pursue jobs as librarians must complete at least a master's degree. Those who want to work in school libraries must also pursue a teaching certification. In the following guide, readers can discover what to expect from pursuing a library science degree online, common courses, how long it takes to complete this degree, certification options, and potential careers.

What Can I Expect From an Online Bachelor's in Library Science Program?

While reviewing the following sections, remember that they provide an overview of common classes and degree expectations. For more details on completing a library science bachelor's degree online, contact individual schools of interest and speak to the admissions directors.

Curriculum for an Online Bachelor's in Library Science

The information below provides learners with an idea of topics they may encounter while enrolled. If you want to get a fuller sense of what to expect, review websites of individual library science online degree programs or contact a faculty member and ask for a plan of study.

Foundations of Library and Information Science

Usually taken in the first year, this introductory course helps students familiarize themselves with theories of information, organizational structures, meeting the needs of patrons, and current issues and trends in library science. Learners also review several case studies.

Principles of Library Management

This course teaches students about the fundamentals of library management and emphasizes planning acquisitions, organizing collections, staffing libraries, directing teams, and managing budgets. Degree candidates gain problem-solving skills and learn about various management methodologies and frameworks.

Children's Literature

This advanced class takes a look at managing children's and young adult literature. Students consider meeting the needs of this audience, how to acquire new titles, and special events to plan around children's books.

Special Libraries

This course covers some of the models for archival, medical, musical, and other types of libraries. Learners explore how to organize these formats, common challenges, staffing needs, and methods of management.

Catalogs and Classifications

With a focus on organization, this class addresses some of the principles, theories, and practices surrounding material management. Students examine Dewey Decimal Classification, subject headings, and Library of Congress Classification. Learners also explore various organizational technologies.

How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Bachelor's in Library Science?

When looking at online bachelor's degree in library and information science programs, prospective learners may want to know how long it should take them to go from matriculation to graduation. Degree seekers enrolled on a full-time basis usually complete all programmatic requirements within four years; those enrolled on a part-time schedule, conversely, may need up to six years to graduate. Some schools offer accelerated plans, meaning students participate in shorter semesters that allow them to move through coursework more quickly. These programs usually take 30-36 months.

Students may also come across cohort formats. These require all learners who begin the degree at the same time to complete classes together, making it impossible to speed up or slow down the pace of your degree. However, these programs also build camaraderie, since students take every class together. Regardless of learning style, the majority of programs require degree candidates to earn between 120 and 128 credits.

Is Online Learning Right for Me?

Before taking the leap into distance learning, prospective degree seekers need to ensure they possess the skills and attributes required for success. In general, online students tend to possess a blend of focus, determination, and discipline that makes it possible for them to stay on track. Learners should know how to manage their time wisely, as many must juggle academic deadlines alongside personal and professional responsibilities.

Students should plan to spend between 10 and 15 hours per week, per class completing assignments and studying. If taking 12 credits per term, distance learners should plan to spend 40-60 hours per week on coursework if they want to excel.

Distance students also frequently appreciate the value of an online degree, recognizing that many of these programs cost less in tuition that those at brick-and-mortar campuses. Online learners can also save money on room and board, meal plans, and transportation.

Library Science Certification

Individuals planning to work as public school librarians usually need to earn a teaching certification to qualify. The majority of states do not mandate any type of certification, although some do require certificates for those working in public libraries. If you're unsure, contact your state's board of licensure to learn more.

Some students decide to complete library certifications through universities. The University of California at Los Angeles provides one such opportunity with its graduate library and information science certificate. If interested in this route, contact a local university or find a school that offers online certificates.

Individuals can also join professional associations, such as the American Library Association, to take advantage of professional development opportunities, continuing education programs, and annual conferences and events.

Library Science Careers

Contrary to popular belief, graduates of the best online library science degrees at the bachelor's level can select from many career paths. Some individuals may decide to work in library settings, while others may want to find some out-of-the-box roles to pursue. In general, graduates tend to be detail-oriented, enjoy working with a large amount of data, and work well with patrons on a day-to-day basis. Professionals typically work standard 9-5 hours but may also work some evening hours for special events or programs.

Librarian

Description Librarians help library patrons conduct research, find books, and take advantage of special services and programs. On the back end, they organize library materials, manage databases, select new acquisitions, update technical equipment as needed, and train other staff members.
Median Annual Salary $59,050
Projected Job Growth Rate 9%

Archivist

Description These professionals work in libraries, historical societies, businesses, and schools to manage the printed, material, and digital items in their collections. They may create exhibits of these materials, help patrons find information, or work to preserve historic items for future generations.
Median Annual Salary $48,400
Projected Job Growth Rate 13%

High School Teacher

Description Some librarians may elect to work in schools and split their time between library science and teaching. If so, they work to plan lessons, teach subjects, assess students through tests and projects, grade assignments, create individualized learning plans, and help learners prepare for standardized tests.
Median Annual Salary $60,320
Projected Job Growth Rate 8%

Library Technician

Description These assistants help librarians by processing materials for patrons, sorting and shelving used materials, creating interlibrary loans, creating library cards for new members, teaching users how to use library technologies, and handling administrative tasks, such as answering the telephone and managing databases.
Median Annual Salary $29,640
Projected Job Growth Rate 9%

Database Administrator

Description Existing more on the side of information science, these professionals oversee the organization and safety of databases. They work to ensure security, create backup files of all data, individualize databases to meet client needs, install new hardware and software as needed, and fix any bugs.
Median Annual Salary $90,070
Projected Job Growth Rate 11%
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